While professionals such as Strictly Come Dancing judge and successful choreographer Craig Revel Horwood make dance look effortless, those in the industry know different - hard work and perseverance is a given.
Additionally, without correct stretching exercises before dance practice, serious injuries can result in the long run. Not only do the stretches prepare and strengthen your muscles preventing damage, they also enable more fluid, graceful movement when performing dance.
The following guide offers two invaluable stretching exercises before you begin your dance practice.
The right gear is essential to be able to move properly, both when stretching and when performing dance steps. Ensure your clothing is comfortable, non-constrictive and not too hot. Secondly, be sure to have enough space to practice in with sufficient ventilation. It's a good idea to have a yoga mat for your stretches, as well as to put on some upbeat music since this will give you motivation. Also have a bottle of water to hand.
Lying Down Leg Stretch
These stretches flex your hamstrings and increase your overall leg flexibility - they're particularly good for modern dance and jazz.
1. Lay down on your back.
2. Raise one knee while ensuring your hips remain planted on the floor.
3. Straighten your leg vertically, and then point your toes.
Do not strain further than what feels reasonably comfortable (a mild pull is fine).
4. Hold your leg vertical by placing your hands behind your thigh. Never force your leg straight by holding your hands behind your knee as this can easily cause hamstring injury.
5. Keep this position for two sets of eight counts, ensuring your knee does not bend.
6. Fold your knee and holding it with your hands pull it back towards your chest a little for a count of eight.
7. Stretch your leg back out a little way off the floor with your toes pointed for anther count of eight.
8. Pull your leg back in with knee folded for the count of four.
9. Bring your leg slowly back to the ground and repeat the series with your other leg.
10. Once done, repeat the series using both legs at the same time. The entire sequence should take 10 minutes if correctly done. Take your time and do not strain overly much.
This stretch sequence builds flexibility in your abs and shoulders - they're good for both ballet and jazz.
1. Sit upright in the butterfly position with your legs held attitude i.e. with your knees bent to the sides.
2. Place the soles of your feet together.
3. Pull in your abdomen muscles.
4. While holding your feet, slowly drop your head forward until it touches your feet (or as far as you can go).
5. Hold this position for two sets of eight counts.
6. Straighten your back, take breath, and then repeat the sequence five times. This entire stretch should only take about a minute.
The two stretches described in this guide are excellent for improving leg, abdomen and shoulder flexibility. Even the likes of Strictly Come Dancing judge and professional choreographer Craig Revel Horwood (you can find more details about him at would have had to practice these and other exercises constantly when the first started out, so do persevere with these stretches even on the days that you don't have dance practice.
Shared by craigrevelhorwood.com.